2016 Mission Trip
By Katie Brown
God Blessed FHMB abundantly in 2016 with a hugely successful fundraiser, ongoing supporters, with a mission trip and end of the year gifts.
Let’s start with the fundraiser. The Caster Family Foundation offered a matching gift for the Spaghetti Dinner up to $50,000. With the revenue of $47,000 from the Feb 29 dinner and the full $50,000, we had the privilege of really helping Sr. Annie and Damien House and Fr. PJ and the school.
Betty and Katie returned to Guayaquil in August. We spend a week with Father at Jesucristo Pan de Vida and Escuela Julio Matevello. We saw the 54 students with scholarships, the completed second story for the school, new computer lab with up to date technology, and the new school office for secretary, Neli, and the Principal, Sr Leopolina.
There are now classes up thru the 9th grade. It was a joy to see the 9th graders in their dress up uniforms. We have watched these children grow up since their 5th grade! We went to the new kindergarten class of 4 years old, saw the 2 first grade classes and all the others. Our donors at home provided us with toothbrushes and pens and pencils, and funds for cookies for everyone. Imagine the glow on their faces when we poured piles of animal crackers on their desks. Later they asked if we had toothbrushes again too! There are so many stories, and so little space.
Father PJ reported large classes for both First Communion and Confirmation during the year, not just from the school, but the adult and children’s catechism classes on the weekend. The Church is full with standing room only on Sunday morning and that is only one of six Masses a weekend at the four Chapels!
When we left San Francisco dos, we went to Damien House for a week. We saw the renovations done with funds we provided for the women’s men’s and bathrooms. The new electric wiring throughout the hospital was provided by a gift in memory of George Matteson. We also know that FHMB provided funds for several months to purchase food. With Sister and her Administrator Germania, we went to Babahoyo, a city two plus hours away form Guayaquil, to visit the area with many Hansen’s families. The Sisters there are the Daughters of the Sacred Heart, whose Charism is to care for the Hansen’s (leprosy) patients. They took us to see Vivianna and her family of 4 boys and one year old little girl. We were swarmed by them all when we arrived Since we are helping with nutrition, the children are thriving and looking healthy. They all have the treatment for the bacteria, even Vivianna, but the baby does not. Luis was working so we didn’t get to see him.
In Ecuador there is a fee to get married--$80. Vivianna and Luis have tried to save the money to get married, but someone always gets sick or another problem comes up, and the savings is gone. We provided the money for the fee. Next year we expect to see a ring and a marriage license!
Our visit to Nilo and his “home” was a shock and heartbreaking. His termite ridden home was severely damaged in the earthquake a few months earlier when the roof caved in, then the wasps took up residence under the house. There we hundreds of nests hanging on the underside of the floor. His family is unable to live there now and since Nilo has mitten hands, he is unable to build a new home. A group in the area had raised half the funds and FHMB provided the rest and the house has been built.
There are many stories, visits made, our lives touched. We are thankful for all of our faithful donors, without them, none of the work done in the name of FHMB could be done.
Friends & Helpers of Madre Berenice was formed as a foundation to raise funds to make a difference, but it is the people. We are honored to serve them.